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In This Moment - Maria Brink (2007) Print
Written by Patrick Douglas   
Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Image    The mostly man-filled world of metal is the last place you might expect to find a petite, poofy-dress wearing woman whose voice is as piercing and powerful as In This Moment’s Maria Brink. The talented vocalist talked about her role in metal with The Culture Shock December 19, 2007, from a tour stop in Indianapolis.

 


Hello?

Hi, is Patrick available?

This is Patrick.

Hi, it’s Maria Brink from In This Moment.

How you doing, Maria?

I’m fine, how are you?

Excellent. Are you in Indianapolis today?

Yeah.

I’m in the big ‘ol state of Montana.

Right on. Cool.

Are you guys getting exhausted yet? This has been kind of a long stretch of touring hasn’t it?

Yeah, we’ve been on the road over a year solid.

Right.

Yeah, we’re getting a little tired.

Last month you guys played a show out here in Great Falls. Playing in all these monster venues and big cities all over the country, what do you think when you come out to a smaller place like Great Falls?

Actually, it’s nice. It’s like a nice change. It’s a very different vibe when you play a huge arena. It’s mindblowing and it’s amazing but it’s definitely a more intimate vibe when it’s a club and there’s no seating. Everybody’s just standing and you can see everybody’s faces. It’s good both ways.

Do you have any particular recollections of that show good or bad?

Um. No, I don’t know where I am. Before I go onstage, I say ‘where am I?” so I can talk to the crowd. I have been on the road for so long and I’m in a different city every day. You know what I remember? Sometimes I’ll say to Chris ‘where are we?’ Sometimes if it’s an amazing crowd I will remember certain things, but usually something will happen and I’ll be like ‘remember that one lady?’ or ‘remember the bathroom was disgusting?’ There’s always things that someone can say to me and I’ll totally remember where I was. The bigger cities like New York City or Los Angeles, those are usually the hardest, snobbier crowds. It’s usually places that are kind of far out and they don’t get a lot of shows, those are usually the best shows by far.

I’ve gone to a lot of shows in the bigger cities and the opening band doesn’t usually get as much love, but when I see shows here in this state it’s always fun ‘cause people show up early to the shows and the opening band plays to almost a full house.

Right. We’re lucky. We’ve been playing to a full house every night.

That’s awesome. One thing that I noticed and I’m sure everyone who sees you live notices that you have some of the most incredible pipes. You can scream with the best of them. How hard is it to be able to bring that kind of physical vocal style to the stage every night?

I think I just have been doing it for so long now that I’ve built up like big calluses on my voice. Knock on wood. I’m finding wood right now to knock on. I’ve never lost my voice. I guess there is a correct way to do it and a not correct way and I guess I have just figured out how to do it without hurting myself. At least I like to think that (laughs). I don’t know how I do it, I just kind of do it.

Does it get more difficult in the winter months? Is there a certain season where it’s miserable to be on the road?

Yeah. It goes both ways. The winter because you get sick and get a stuffy nose or you get like sore throats. That’s hard too, but don’t get me wrong 104 on Ozzfest in the dead outside in the sun, that was pretty brutal too (laughs). As far as my voice is concerned, winter is definitely harder, the hardest season to tour.

You guys definitely look and sound like you’re having fun and are appreciative of the chance to open all these shows for Zombie and Ozzy …

Oh yeah.

What’s been the most rewarding thing to being on this tour?

It is the shows. It’s like you just said. We still are a new band, we’re still a baby band. This is our first album, it just came out in March. It’s done really great on radio and now we have an opportunity to be playing arenas with Ozzy. Huge shows with Zombie. It really is kind of like what you’d hope for. It’s great that it’s on our first album but you kind of think like eventually someday we can play arenas. You don’t think on your first album that’s gonna be happening. It’s definitely a dream come true. It’s been the best part of the shows everyday. No matter how tired I am and we are tired, ‘cause we don’t just do the shows every day, we do radio and meet and greets and acoustic sessions every day. No matter how tired I am, the second I get up there, I kind of look around and realize that it all falls into what we’re doing. It’s everything that I’ve ever dreamed of doing. It’s fantastic.

Musically the band sounds like it’s been together for a long time. It’s weird how musicians eventually end up finding each other to make up a perfect sound for that particular band. Talk about this group of musicians and how you guys got together and how you kind of eventually got to a point where you just knew that this was the group of people that needed to be here.

Me and Chris kind of started it all off together and we kind of got everybody really quick within a few weeks, but I think the cool thing about what it is with us is that everybody kind of has their own influences and we’re really different. Chris is kind of the heavy music guy. Blake is really like Pink Floyd-y. I always say that Chris lays down the cake and then Blake lays down the magical frosting and the sparkles. It is the different element that everybody loves. I love heavy stuff but I love beautiful stuff, melodic stuff, pretty stuff. So I think the fighting, especially with me and Chris, we fight constantly. The war between us. He wants heavy, I want pretty, kind of creates what we come up with type thing.

ImageThat’s cool. Your lyrics are very personal too. Songs like ‘Daddy’s Fallen Angel’ and ‘Legacy’ obviously have a story behind them. How therapeutic has it been for you to put together your thoughts in these lyrics and then go out and perform them live for the past year.

Gosh, we’ve been touring these songs, honestly for about two and a half years. This one run has been solid for a year. We haven’t had any break, but we’ve toured the whole year and a half before that too because we started touring ourselves before we got signed. To me, as far as the question you just asked, it’s so important for me when I’m really moved by a singer that I can really feel emotion with what people are singing about. Sometimes I can hear the most amazing, flawless voice of someone who’s singing, but there’s no emotion or anything personally attached to it. You can totally tell. To me. I can totally tell. But them sometimes, they won’t even be the most beautiful or angelic singer, for instance Johnny Cash, but you can feel so much emotion in it. To me, that’s what I like to do personally. That’s what really moves me. I like to write about things that are really personal to me. Whether it’s happy or sad or pissed off, people can really feel what I’m singing type thing.

Going off of that. I know a lot of bands deal with this after a debut album. After performing these songs for two and a half years, are you getting to a point now where you’re ready to put this album down and work on the next one and get some new songs out there or are you still as enthusiastic about these songs as you were when you started?

I’m still enthusiastic about it. When I get on stage I try to really connect with the song and what I wrote the song about so that I still can do that song with conviction on stage and be real with it. But, yeah, I have been doing it on stage forever. We’re about to do our next album after this tour. When this tour ends, we’re going to Japan for two days and then we have two and a half months to write our new album. I definitely am very excited for writing new content and new lyrics and just going to the next step for sure. I’m excited about bringing some new songs to the table.

You’ve got the whole saying where you have a lifetime to write the first album and then a year or so to write the second one.

Yeah. Scary.

How are you going to approach it as far as lyrically or musically? Is it more excitement or nervousness or both?

ImageIt’s both. What you just said is true. A lot of times too, the second album makes or breaks type of thing. So it’s definitely pressure as far as your next album. We really wanna grow on our next album, I think. Just write better songs in general. We’re starting to do pre-production now, so we’re already starting a bunch of skeletons for a bunch of new songs. It’s definitely exciting. I usually don’t do my lyrics until last. It’s weird. We’ll write the songs and I’ll write my melodies, but I’m just singing random words and until the song’s kind of done and I get a feel of what the song feels like is when I usually put lyrics to it. I wanna write a song about something I know I wanna write a song about. Something really dramatic happened or something really strong I feel about. Usually though I’ll do it last. The lyrics.

After the song is constructed and ready to go.

Right. I’ll do the melody. I’ll have all the melodies, but I’ll literally be singing random stuff. I’ll have all the melodies and exactly how I’m gonna sing it and structure, but I don’t put the actual words until last.

As far as presenting them and going out every night, how is it for you to take these personal lyrics and ideas and emotions and present them in a scream vocal way as far as emotionally? How does it feel to be able to scream these lyrics out every night?

It seems great. Some songs that we do are all sing-y. I only scream once or whatever. But, I really love singing too. I’m actually getting to the point now where, I’m not over screaming, I’m not like, completely like ‘oh I don’t wanna scream anymore,’ but I’m a little tired of screaming as much as I am ‘cause I’m not always pissed off. I love to let it out and I love to scream when the emotion of the song really calls for it and I guess I was just emotionally insane this last album (laughs). I had a lot to let out but I’m definitely finding that I wanna sing more and I definitely want a lot more melodic so I’m sure you’re going to be hearing a big difference on the next album.

Are you apprehensive about that as far as giving fans an impression of a musical style and the next album having something different? Or is that exciting to say that you guys aren’t just a one-dimensional, same thing every album kind of band?

Right. I think what we did on the last album, which is really important to me, was we did set that album up that no matter what direction we kind of maybe wanted to go to from one album or another album, that we could still be able to do that. There’s acoustic songs but then yeah, there’s totally really heavy stuff. I think it’s important for us to just go with whatever we want. However I’m feeling and however I wanna, I’m an artist and however I wanna do it on the album is what I’m gonna do. I’m not gonna worry about if people who love our melodic stuff are gonna think that we’re too heavy or people who love our heavy stuff gonna think I went too melodic. I’m just gonna go with what I emotionally feel like. We’ll definitely incorporate something for everybody, I’m sure. I’m still gonna wanna scream. If I did a whole album without screaming it would put me to sleep. Or, if I did an album with all screaming and no melodic, it would make me insane. It’ll definitely have a balance to it still.

ImageDo you have to go to a different place in your head when you’re performing live?

Yeah, I do. In the studio for sure. The studio’s kind of like, you’ve gotta go backwards. Especially if you’re singing about things that are painful, it kind of brings you into a dark place while you’re writing for sure and recording. But, now that I’ve been singing them as much as I have, it’s a little bit easier. It’s not emotional turmoil or anything. It’s definitely become a lot more easier to do it live every day if it’s something that I’m really emotionally attached to the songs. It becomes easier the more that I do it. Just like anything, right?

Right. I’m sure you get this in absolutely every interview that you do, so forgive me for adding to it. You’re playing in a genre that’s typically a man’s world. There’s a lot more female singers these days, but how have you been able to overcome obstacles as a woman and break through the way you have?

I just remained who I am. There was Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks and there were so many rock and roll queens back when and I think it kind of died out a little bit. Now it’s kind of coming back, the whole rock and metal thing. To me rock and metal are kind of the same thing. To me, it really is. I think I just gotta be myself and do what I do and if somebody accepts me … I don’t find it a big challenge to me. If somebody accepts me and likes the music and likes what I do, then great, I love it. But, if somebody doesn’t think I’m metal enough, I don’t care either. I don’t need that person to be our fan anyway. The only obstacle I see that has been challenging is maybe crude people in the crowd more than you’d probably get at a pop concert. Like the tough rough boys that are like ‘show us your tits!’ or something retarded like that. That’s what I’ve had to deal with and things like that a bit more, but I’ve learned how to handle myself just fine in that situation. At first, it was hard. We opened up main support for Megadeth, so I got thick skin (laughs). I learned how to deal with that quick.

I imagine the only thing worse would be having to open for Slayer.

Exactly. They’re right behind them a few steps. Hard crowds, yeah. Can you imagine me in my little foofy dress opening up for Slayer? (laughs) God.

Tell me about the ‘Alice In Wonderland’-style dress that you wear. Is there a story behind that?

No. I’m just in love with dresses and I love fairy tale things and I love doll dresses. I don’t know, it’s just something I’m in love with. It feels good for me to step into that before I go onstage. I would hate to go onstage, I wouldn’t feel like me if I went onstage with like, I don’t know, jeans and a t-shirt. That’s not me anyway in real life. I don’t dress like that anyway, but to me it’s a show and I like to become who I am as an artist on stage. I can’t explain it. I don’t know. It makes me feel strong and beautiful and that’s all that matters.

It adds a lot. When we saw you here opening for Zombie it was great. It adds a different element to the show.

Yeah. I think with certain types of music and with shows, you go to some shows and they just dress in their jeans, like Slayer. Actually, Slayer has their little outfits too somewhat. But, some people just don’t do anything, but then some people go all out. It’s a show. It’s theater. To me, I like to get into that character and into that world.

You have a son, right?

Yeah.

I have an 18-month-old son, so I’m starting to figure out this whole parenting thing.

Aahhhh.

ImageYour son is much older than mine, but how hard is it to be on tour for so long, away from your child?

It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done is to be away from my son for a few weeks solid. I get to see him a lot. He’s 14 years old, my son, so if he was younger. If he was your son’s age or a child’s age. Probably anything underneath, I couldn’t do it if he wasn’t the age that he is ‘cause I think he couldn’t quite understand. Just like my mom, I’m a single mom too. It’s just me and my mom. She helps me. It’s always just been me and my son. We moved to California together alone. It’s always just been us. We’re a team, so for me to be away from him like this is hard, but I’ve given him the option of tutoring and home schooling and just being on the road and he’s just not into it. He is popular and loves his life and his school. I fly out all the time. If I have two days off and I haven’t seen my son in like two weeks and I miss him, or like three weeks, I’ll fly home just for those two days or if he has a football game and I have a day off, actually I’ll cancel a show sometimes just to fly home with him. We’re still very much involved in each others life. He knows that everything I do is for him and us and our future so he gets it. He’s old enough to get it.

I’m sure he’s had opportunities during the summer to go on tour with you. Has he done a lot of that?

Yeah, he did like a month on Ozzfest. He’s seen all kinds of shows and met everybody. He plays drums and he loves to get signed drumheads from the whole band. He has things signed from everybody. From Ozzy, Killswitch, pop bands. I have gotten him so many things, so it’s fun for him to.

Do you have any Christmas plans?

I get to go home. Yeah, for 12 days with my son. It’s hard being on the road.

It’s funny you say 12 days. My wife is a school teacher and she’s at work all day while I’m at home with our son and she’s been looking forward to this break and she keeps calling it ‘The 12 Days of Mommy’ ‘cause she gets to be home with our son too.

Ahhh. I’m looking forward to it big time. I get to go home and be with my mom, my boyfriend, my son, so it’s cool. My boyfriend actually tours all the time too. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the band DevilDriver.

Oh yeah.

My boyfriend, he’s the bass player for that band so the only time he can see me is when he stops touring, he literally flies to where I am and he tours with me. And, then flies back to his tour. It’s a totally insane life that we live (laughs).

I’ve interviewed Des a couple times and Jeff.

Oh cool.

If you could share the stage with any bands that have ever played past or present, which ones would you choose?

Oh my goodness. Let’s see. Zeppelin, Elvis, Johnny Cash and the Doors with Jim Morrison.

Nice. I’ve asked that question to almost 300 bands and that’s probably one of the coolest lineups right there.

Ok, cool. That would be like the coolest concert ever. (laughs).

You’d almost have to wear shades to it.

Yeah, probably.

Alright, Maria, I appreciate the conversation.

Thank you so much.

Have a good one.

Ok. Good luck with your baby, too.

Thanks.

ImageBye. Have a good day.

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